Observations and predictability of a nondeveloping tropical disturbance over the Eastern Atlantic

Alan Brammer, Chris D. Thorncroft, Jason P. Dunion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A strong African easterly wave (AEW) left the West African coast in early September 2014 and operational global numerical forecasts suggested a potential for rapid tropical cyclogenesis of this disturbance in the eastern Atlantic, despite the presence of a large region of dry air northwest of the disturbance. Analysis and in situ observations show that after leaving the coast, the closed circulation associated with the AEW trough was not well aligned vertically, and therefore, low-level or midlevel dry air was advected below or above, respectively, areas of closed circulation. GPS dropwindsonde observations highlight the dry air undercutting the midlevel recirculation region in the southwestern quadrant. This advection of dry air constrains the spatial extent of deep convection within the AEW trough, leading to the vortex decaying. As the column continues to be displaced horizontally, losing vertical alignment, this enables increased horizontal advection of dry air into the system further limiting convective activity. Ensemble forecasts indicate that short-term errors in precipitation rate and vorticity generation can lead to an over intensified and well-aligned vortex, which then interacts less with the unfavorable environment, allowing for further convection and intensification. The stronger vortex provides more favorable conditions for precipitation through a more vertically coherent closed circulation and thus a positive feedback loop is initiated. The short-term forecasts of precipitation were shown to be sensitive to lower-tropospheric moisture anomalies around the AEW trough through ensemble sensitivity analysis from Global Ensemble Forecast System real-time forecasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3079-3096
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Atmospheric
  • Ensembles
  • In situ atmospheric observations
  • Numerical weather prediction/forecasting
  • Tropical cyclones
  • Waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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